Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday advised the country’s president, Arif Alvi, to dissolve parliament, setting the stage for a general election as the world’s fifth-most populous country wrestles with deepening political and economic crises.
When is the election likely to be held?
Legally, an election should be held within 90 days of parliament’s dissolution, but the outgoing government has already warned that polling day is likely to be delayed.
Speculation has lingered that there could be a delay to elections as the establishment contends with overlapping security, economic, and political crises.
The unlikely coalition between Pakistan’s usually bickering dynastic parties, which combined forces to force Khan out of office, has gained little popular support.
A delay until well into next year is possible if Pakistan’s election commission decides it needs to redraw constituency maps based on the results of a recent census.
Parliament’s five-year term had, in any case, been due to expire on August 12, with Sharif’s announcement merely ending it three days earlier.
Former PM Khan barred from standing
The 70-year-old has been at the heart of political turmoil since he was ousted as prime minister in a vote of no-confidence last year. While he remains popular among many voters, Khan has been barred from holding any public office for five years and under current circumstances would not be allowed to stand.
Khan began a three-year sentence on Saturday on charges of unlawfully selling state gifts that he and his family acquired during his 2018-2022 tenure. He was convicted of concealing assets.
The Islamabad High Court said it was seeking a “government response” and would hear from Pakistan’s election commission lawyers before making a decision on the appeal.
The court adjourned without setting a date for the following hearing.
rc/wmr (AFP, Reuters, AP)